The Mullah Dadullah Front, a Taliban group closely linked to al Qaeda, claimed credit for yesterday’s assassination of a senior member of the Afghan High Peace Council.
The Mullah Dadullah Front, or Mullah Dadullah Mahaz, told a Pakistani newspaper that it assassinated Arsala Rahmani, a senior member of the Afghan High Peace Council who had served as a deputy education minister during Taliban rule in Afghanistan, in a shooting in Kabul yesterday.
Qari Hamza, a spokesperson for the Mullah Dadullah Front, said that the group assassinated Rahmani for negotiating with the Taliban on behalf of the Afghan government.
“We claim responsibility for the killing of Arsala,” Hamza told The Express Tribune in a text message. “The infidel forces had assigned Arsala to sell out the mujahideen to non-Muslims, so that the non-Muslims continue their occupation of Afghanistan. We will target and eliminate all such people.”
Yesterday, the Taliban’s official spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, denied the group was involved in Rahmani’s assassination.
The Mullah Dadullah Front is a powerful wing of the Taliban in the south that has adopted al Qaeda’s tactics and ideology, a US intelligence official told The Long War Journal in December 2010. The Mullah Dadullah Front is led by none other than Mullah Adbul Qayoum Zakir, the former Guantanamo Bay detainee who has since been promoted as the Taliban’s top military commander and co-leader of the Taliban’s Quetta Shura. In December 2010, Coalition and Afghan special operations troops captured a senior Mullah Dadullah Front financier and weapons facilitator.
Zakir and other Taliban leaders operate from the Pakistani border city of Chaman in Baluchistan, as the location shields them from US and NATO operations. The Taliban maintain a command and control center in Chaman, but the Pakistani military and intelligence services have refused to move against the Taliban there.
The Mullah Dadullah Front operates largely in the southern Afghan provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, and Uruzgan, and is considered the most effective and dangerous Taliban group in the region. The group has been active in attempting to sabotage negotiations between the Afghan government and lower-level Taliban leaders and fighters in the south.
The Taliban subgroup has executed numerous complex attacks, suicide assaults, and assassinations in the region.
Zakir is also responsible for a purge of Taliban leaders who have conducted negotiations with the Afghan government, including Mohammad Ismail, the former Deputy Military Council Chairman for the Taliban’s Quetta Shura.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.